If you haven’t seen it yet, the Maxus T60 is the new kid on the block with a lot to prove. Let’s face it, it’s not easy to get into a market that is filled with so many good choices already. It would be like putting a newly-trained recruit in the middle of a warzone. Like the analogy in the video review for this guy, we mentioned that it would be like fitting in with a new group of people, hard to do even if you throw some party favors at the crowd.
Now whatever the deal is with the 2020 Maxus T60 Elite 4x4, and maybe some prejudice that you have towards the new guy, the T60, seems to be one of the more exciting entries in the lineup. So let’s see if this pickup is actually a great deal for what you pay for.
Now, yes, you can’t really reinvent the wheel when it comes to pickups, and at least for us, Maxus played it very safe. You have a large chrome grille along with LED projector headlamps and halogen fog lamps. As a bonus, you get LED DRLs, which is a nice touch.
Overall, it is not hard on the eyes. Not like the Mitsubishi Strada with its very forward Dynamic Shield design. It’s safe and it follows more traditional pickup truck design cues. The large grille flanked by two square headlamps gives it a macho vibe. Other than that, there really isn’t much to say about its exterior. It’s pretty standard, with a few key elements and features that allow it to evoke a subtle sense of style.
Finally, we get to that bed that Maxus likes to brag about. We didn’t really get to test it, but the brand states that it is rated to carry up to 1,020 kg, which is par for the course in the midsize pickup segment in the Philippines. Like other pickups though, the rear is really just straight bricks, a tailgate, and a bumper. More impressive things can be found inside if we are being honest.
We do have to note that this is the top of the line model for the T60, which means that it comes with leather seats that feel more durable than luxurious, and with red stitching, which adds a bit of flair to the interior. Part of us wished that it would come in green to match the exterior color, but that’s expecting too much. The interior accent colors are red, which goes nicely with the stitching.
Fit and finish in the interior is fair. Pretty par for the course considering that this vehicle is built by SAIC Motor, whose cars we have grown accustomed to over the years. It’s not the best-feeling interior, but then again, it is a pickup so you’re not at the forefront of luxury. Overall, we’re not too impressed with the design, nor are we offended by it. It is, like its exterior, a safe bet. Nothing over the top, nothing too plain, a bit of just right.
Though, one high point that we have to give it is the amount of space in the back seat. It’s pretty spacious in the rear, which is great because it allows your passengers to kick a leg up and get a bit more comfortable back here along with a rear 12-volt socket and a rear air conditioning vent, which is great for the price point. You also get some space at the rear for storage, good for a toolbox or a few other items, you won’t be storing your carry-on luggage back here, but it gets the job done for perhaps a knapsack.
To be fair, it is a pickup truck, so the ride is expected to be bouncy, however, the Maxus T60 feels more robust than plush. It doesn’t feel flimsy when going over bumps, however, that ends up taking a toll on the actual ride comfort that the occupants experience. Going over bumps in EDSA is noticeable, with the vibrations and body movements translating to the cabin. It’s far from the most chaotic or challenging experience in the world, but it isn’t a luxury liner either. In this regard, it is comfortable enough as long as the roads are paved and free of potholes, but what road aside from the highway is free of potholes in this country anyway?
Bring her out on paved roads, and you will find that the NVH at about 90-100 km/h is adequate. It’s not that intrusive, though if you are speeding, the wind noise will creep up on you, so don’t speed in the first place right? Road noise is not too big of an issue, you will have to listen to it intently if you are under the limit on the highway. In the city, sound insulation is just fair, nothing spectacular. Once you get in the city, however, Road noise is noticeable on less-than-stellar surfaces.
In the tech department, Maxus figured that it would cram as much as it can into the T60, especially in this Elite trim level. First and foremost, you get a 10-inch infotainment system with 6 speakers all around the cabin, that allows for a sound stage that is rather good. Said system also has Apple CarPlay built right in – sorry Android users, no Android Auto. Putting Waze on this screen was a joy. If you are an Android user, at least it has Bluetooth, though the interface is something to get used to if we are being honest.
Apart from its infotainment, you get a rather basic setup in the driver’s seat, with two analog gauges flanking a central screen. The trip functions are basic, yet adequate enough for your day to day needs. One feature we are happy to see is the motorized driver’s seat, which is adjustable 6-ways, and a cinch to use. You also have a push-button start with keyless entry, cruise control, steering wheel-mounted controls, two drive modes to choose from – Eco and Power, a tire pressure monitoring system, a backup camera with rear parking sensors, and an automatic climate control system. To put things into context, these are top-shelf items, and the T60 is well below the price of a top-spec pickup.
While it has the creature comforts that can be found in top of the line offerings, it seems like the most used items were cherry-picked from the spec-sheets of other brands, allowing Maxus to maximize the amount of utility that a consumer will get from the features installed, and making sure the price is still affordable enough for most.
In terms of safety, the Maxus has just enough kit to protect you from an accident and keep you from one. It has driver and passenger front airbags, electronic stability control, ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution, an engine immobilizer, and ISOFIX tethers.
It’s not the most padded safety spec sheet out there, but it is par, considering its price point and the other competitors that populate the space.
Driving and Handling
The Maxus T60 is your quintessential pickup truck. The steering is heavy, the diesel engine has a tendency to make you wait then surges you forward after you press the accelerator, and it’s a diesel so expect that torque to come through, though not as much as you would expect. It only has 360 Nm at its disposal and 148 hp, which is adequate enough, but it’s not exciting by any means, though it is enough to get the tires you squeal if you give it enough juice. If you need it also, there is a 4x4 system, which is not commonly found with a 6-speed automatic at this price point. Again, top of the line stuff for something that costs the same as an entry-level variant from other brands.
Like we mentioned earlier, the steering is on the heavy side, so it’s something to get used to. Don’t expect this thing to corner like it is on rails either because the center of gravity is high and it is on leaf springs in the rear. Going over bumps also requires you to have a firm hand on the wheel. The steering isn’t razor-sharp by any means, but it is relaxed and should respond the best to intentional and deliberate inputs. We do have to note that the T60 gets added points with us for its 4x4 system at the price that it comes at. Having this feature especially when it comes to low-traction surfaces is definitely something we're very appreciative of.
Now in the city, in pretty bad traffic, you’re looking at 8 km/L which, unlike the traffic, is not that bad. Once it opens up, you can get up to 11 km/L going at a speed of 60 km/h without much stoppages, and on the highway, you get up to 15 km/L traveling at 90 km/h, which is pretty up there with the rest of the competition.
So the question of whether this pickup stands out or blends in or just doesn’t fit in doesn’t necessarily just depend on us. The Ayala Corporation is also in with this brand and has to manage it as best as it can providing proper after-sales services to customers of a brand such as this. Maxus has a good shot at getting its legs in the Philippine market but we cannot deny there will be a curve.
That being said, the car itself is a good first foray into the mainstream. Sure, it’s not the best in a few areas, but with a price tag of just P1,328,00, it might as well win the race, not to the top but to the bottom. Getting as many premium additions on without going over a certain budget. It’s a great budget contender if you’re willing to put up with a few of its quirks. After all, it’s a pickup truck.